Targeted axillary dissection (TAD), with marking of the metastatic lymph node before neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT), is increasingly used for breast cancer axillary staging. In the case of axillary pathological complete response (ax-pCR), axillary lymph node clearance can be omitted. Several marking methods exist, most using re-marking before surgery. Feasibility, learning curve, and identification rate (IR) vary. Marking with I seed before NACT makes re-marking at surgery redundant, possibly increasing feasibility and IR. Here, TAD with I seed placed before NACT is evaluated in a Danish multicenter cohort.
Patients staged with I TAD in Denmark between 1 January 2016 and 31 August 2021 were included. Patients were identified in radioactivity-emitting implant registries at the radiology departments and from the Danish Breast Cancer Group database. Data were extracted from patients’ medical records. Information on patient/tumor characteristics, I seed activity, marking period, TAD success, number of sentinel nodes (SNs), the histopathological status of excised nodes, and whether the marked lymph node (MLN) was an SN were registered.
142 patients were included. The IR of the MLN was 99.3%, and the IR of the SLNB was 91.5%. TAD success was 91.5%. Minor challenges in marking or removal of the MLN were noted in three patients. In 72.3% of the patients, the MLN was a sentinel node. Overall, 40.8% had axillary pCR.
TAD with I seed marking before NACT is feasible without re-marking at surgery and with only minor surgical challenges. The IR is high. Staging with TAD spares 41% of breast cancer patients an axillary dissection.

© 2023. The Author(s).